I am fortunate that I get to go to the U.S. Disney Parks on a regular basis. If I miss something one trip, no big deal. I’ll see it next time. Many people, though, only get there as a trip of a lifetime. In remembering that, I do my best to be courteous of my fellow park guests. I’ve seen OFTEN how other park guests’ attitudes and actions can really make or break an experience for those around them. Here are ways you can be courteous to your fellow park guests and improve everyone’s experience.
Be prepared when entering the parks. Like so many public places, there is going to be security to get in and that includes a bag check. While waiting in line, take your bags off your shoulders or out of strollers and have every pocket wide open by the time you are to the front of the line. Even better, use a clear bag that you’ve also opened or take no bag at all. We all want to make the most of our day and this will help all of us get into the parks more quickly.
Think of the walkways as highways. If you’re driving down the highway, you would never just stop in the middle of one to change a flat or check a map, you’d pull over. Do the same on the walkways. We all have shoes come untied or need to check a guidemap or directions, but be courteous and step to the side instead of just stopping right in the middle of a walkway. Want to take a photo? Understand that just like on a highway, you can’t expect for traffic to stop for your photo opportunity so again, move to the side or an uncongested area. Also, large groups should convoy with two or three people side by side and other small groups following instead of taking up the entire roadway and in the U.S., we drive on the right. On most of the walkways, traffic will move the same way. People with“vehicles” should also think that way. SUVs are not allowed to just run over smaller cars. If you have a “vehicle” such as a stroller or wheelchair, be sure to leave enough space between you and the person in front of you so ankles don’t get nipped. Traffic does sometimes stop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially when it’s very congested.
Understand queue line etiquette. No one likes waiting in line so tempers can run short and impatience can run high when doing so. A few things that help? Don’t hold places for others in line. The entire party should enter the line together and wait together. It’s frustrating and difficult to let others through to “catch up” not to mention that usually the Cast Members won’t allow it. Also, be mindful of personal space. Yes, everyone is going to be close together, but crowding or creeping up on the people in front of you won’t get anyone into the attraction more quickly. Speaking of crowding, watch your kids and help them be mindful of others in line. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in line and ended up with someone else’s child in my group with their family 2 or 3 groups behind or I’ve been hit by kids or chains when they’re swinging or hanging on the dividers. I know it’s difficult because kids get even more impatient and strollers aren’t allowed in the queues, but it’s necessary. While I mostly meant attraction queues, this is also true inside shops. Want to trade a pin? Wait in line like those who are making purchases. Don’t just cut in front of those who have been waiting or worse, interrupt them mid-transaction.
Attractions have their own set of etiquette rules as well. Dark attractions are meant to be left dark. Photos are OK; flash photos are not. Besides lighting everything up, they hurt everyone’s eyes who were unfortunate enough to be in the attraction with you. If you don’t think you can get a great dark photo, try taking a video (without external lighting) and edit out still shots when you get home. Also, keep conversations low and to a minimum and cell phones silent. Do not talk on your cell phone on an attraction or in a show! I’m hoping the reason why is self-explanatory. Same goes to those who have ridden something a gazillion times and feel the need to recite the attraction line for line. Yes, I’m familiar with the “chilling challenge” of “no windows and no doors” in the stretching room at Haunted Mansion, but it could be someone’s first time. Be courteous and allow them to hear it from the narrator as it was meant to be heard, not your version. Finally, in attractions that have a theater setting, the Cast Members instruct everyone to move to the end of the row for a reason. Please do not stop in the middle of a row and make room for everyone.
Be a window, not a door at parades and fireworks. While it is impossible to completely be a “window,” remember that there are likely people behind you who are trying to see the same thing. Were you lucky enough (or maybe patient enough) to snag a curbside seat on Main Street for a parade? It would be really helpful to the people behind you if you stay seated during the parade. You’re in the front row so should still be able to see just fine from a seated position. That holds true for anyone against the ropes. It’s also great for those adults up front to make a little room for children behind them. They’re short and most adults can see over their heads anyway. Of course, parents, this does not mean it’s OK for you to force your children in front of the adults ahead of them. Asking nicely might do the trick, though. If you’re stuck with a small child further back, go ahead and hold them so they are adult height, but putting them on your shoulders means you’re blocking the view for rows and rows of people behind you and that’s not nice. My arms have gotten tired with a 2-year-old in them, but I switched sides or had someone else hold the child for a while. It worked and not only was the 2-year-old able to see, so were my fellow guests.
In addition to being nice to fellow guests, remember to be nice to the Cast Members. I love when I hear people say, “Oh, it must be so great to work at Disneyland!” Those are the people who have obviously never worked there. While guests are there to ride rides, watch shows, and have fun, Cast Members are working. Odds are, they won’t ride or see a single attraction the whole day or week or sometimes even a month. Instead, they are the front line and must be problem-solvers, magic makers, and deal with unhappy and rude guests like anyone else in a customer service position. In my experience, they will do what they can to make your day as magical as possible, but it’s human nature to be nice to those who are nice to you. Yelling at them or holding them responsible for things beyond their control (I actually just heard a guest yelling at a Cast Member because Disneyland canceled a parade due to rain) just makes you, the people around you, and the Cast Member more miserable. Instead, work with them to find a solution if you have a problem.
We all paid tons of money and used precious vacation time to get to the Disney Parks. We all want our children to have the trip of their lives. If everyone just remembers these few simple rules, we can all have an even more magical time at the Disney Parks or any other theme park!